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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Aida – martyr in the struggle - Cinquera, Cabanas

part of a wall mural in Cinquera

I can never get over the violence that people can so casually inflict on others.  Today we were in Cinquera, an area that was very active during the war.  The area was totally destroyed and while there is a thriving hamlet here now, it is a fraction of the population that lived here before the armed insurrection.

Many community members and insurgents were killed here during the struggle against the army but one story stands out for me.

During our tour of the town center, we heard the story of a 17-year-old pastoral worker named Aida.

She was from Cinquera and was an active member of the church here.  She was not a combatant; not involved with the FMLN or any of its associate groups, she was a parish organizer, and she was just 17 years old.

Being a parish worker in El Salvador in the 1970’s and 80’s was much more dangerous than you would think.  In the 1970’s, a popular bumper sticker read ‘Be a patriot, kill a priest’.

This was the political climate where priests and even archbishops were assassinated with impunity, where carrying a bible could get you tortured and killed.

Aida was taken from her home in front of her mother.  She was put into a potato sack and was sat on by the Guardia as they took her back to Suchitoto for questioning.  She was tortured and raped by the soldiers at the base.

Her fingernails were cut off along with one of her ears.  Her breasts were cut off and  stakes were driven into her body.  Even when she was dead they continued by burning the body with acid.

Aida’s body was found with another community worker on a road outside of Cinquera.  Her family and friends quickly buried her in the cemetery in town.  This too was dangerous work.  The Guardia used to wait for bodies to be picked up off the street so they could identify new people to pick up.

The manner of Aida’s death was very typical during this period. Hard to believe that anything so horrible could ever be seen as typical. The military believed that they could intimidate the people and thereby cease opposition to the brutal regime in San  Salvador.

The murals of Aida and other Salvadorans in Cinquera are a testament to the bravery of these great people.  

I am glad we had a chance to witness their stories.

Aida from another wall mural in Cinquera 

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